The Supreme Court will today hear the Centre’s plea seeking to recall the former’s March 20 order on the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. The Centre had on April 2 moved the top court for a review of the judgement that had sparked nationwide protests including some by lawmakers. Leaders cutting across party lines had said that the order to dilute stringent provisions of Act will render the law, which seeks to deliver speedy justice to people from the marginalised sections of society, as ineffective.
In the last hearing on April 27, the court had said that it would hear the Centre’s plea on May 3 after Attorney General KK Venugopal submitted that in compliance of the court’s April 3 order, all parties have submitted their written submissions. The court has already made it clear that it will not entertain any other petition in the matter.
On April 3, the court had refused to stay the operation of its March 20 judgement. However, it had said that compensation can be paid to the victims even without registration of an FIR.
The court had in its March 20 order made some changes in the law and introduced a new set of provisions with a view to safeguard innocents from being wrongly framed. The court had said that before arresting an official, prior approval from the competent authority would be a must. The court also allowed the accused to seek anticipatory bail. Later on April 3, while admitting the Centre’s plea, the apex court said that it was not against the law and held that it had not diluted it but only issued directions aimed at protecting innocents from being punished.
The government in its plea has told the court that its judgement amounts to violation of the rights promised to people in the SC/ST category under Article 21 of the Constitution and sought the restoration of previous provisions of the Act. The Centre argued that changes brought to the law in 2015 were aimed at delivering speedy justice to the victims. It said that court’s observation that the law could be misused doesn’t make valid ground to change the provisions.
After SC’s March 20 order, several states including BJP-ruled Chhattisgarh had issued notifications to implement the top court’s order in true spirit. However, the notification was recalled by the Raman Singh government after it sparked a controversy.